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Former circus tigers from Guatemala arrive at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa

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Posted at 12:32 PM, Nov 25, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. — Three former circus tigers from Guatemala started their new life in the Tampa Bay area on Monday.

Kimba, Max and Simba were performing in Guatemala until a law banned the use of animals in circuses in 2017. After the ban, the government of Guatemala invited Los Angeles-based Animal Defenders International (ADI) to help enforce the law.

"Kimba (3 years old), Max and Simba (both 9 years old) were among a group of lions and tigers rescued from a Guatemalan circus called Circo Hermanos Ponce in June 2018," Big Cat Rescue in Tampa said in a release. "The circus had agreed to voluntarily surrender the animals but in a tense, daylong operation, ADI had to step in and stop circus workers severely beating and terrifying the youngest tiger, Kimba, on two occasions."

The tigers arrived at Miami International airport Monday morning before arriving to their furever home at Big Cat Rescue.

“Big Cat Rescue is thrilled to become the permanent forever home for these three former Guatemalan circus tigers," said Big Cat Rescue Founder and CEO Carole Baskin. "Big cats should not be forced to perform tricks and unnatural behaviors in circuses. We applaud Guatemala for banning wild animals in circuses and look forward to the day when all countries have ended this cruel, inhumane practice.”

Kimba, Max and Simba will "each enjoy their own spacious (approximately 4000-sq-feet) natural enclosure with a freshwater pool for cooling off and splashing, numerous shade trees, soft grass and foliage, dens, and large platforms."

They'll also enjoy their own Butterball turkey for Thanksgiving and a Christmas tree in December.